With the recent events surrounding the tragic death of Adrian Peterson’s son – and the way the reporting of it was handled by the media – I wanted to get the take of three journalists I respect and discuss how they deal with reporting and writing about someone who has died. Thus, I talked with Sean Jensen – formerly of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Chicago Sun-Times and the one to break the story that the critically-injured boy was actually Peterson’s son. I also brought in SI.com’s Doug Farrar and New York Times bestselling author Jeff Pearlman, who vehemently disagreed that week through social media on whether sending condolences in a blog post about the news was appropriate for a journalist (here was Pearlman’s blog post on the matter).
With Jensen, we talked about his process for breaking this particular story, what he will and will not ask while reporting on a topic as sensitive as this, and how high we should be jumping to be the first to scoop the death of a famous person.
With Farrar, we discussed his process on writing about the Peterson story, why some fantasy football writers would try to pimp their sites during the ongoing story, and why Farrar might or might not continue to send out his thoughts and condolences when writing a similar kind of piece in the future.
With Pearlman, we gathered his thoughts on why you never, ever, ever write your condolences on a news piece about somebody’s death, how he reported on the death of a former college basketball player two days after 9/11, and whether it ever would be appropriate to try to contact Adrian Peterson during that time to find out information.
Coming off the Oklahoma State investigation by Sports Illustrated and by the media’s subsequent investigation of SI, we talk to the fantastic John Koblin, who writes for Deadspin.com and is one of the top media critics in our field. In our chat, we discuss media-on-media criticism in the Twitterverse and whether it’s helpful for the greater good, and we chat about whether it’s OK to pay sources for information and other incriminating evidence. Plus, we talk about the state of Sports Illustrated and how Deadspin broke the Manti Te’o story.
Also, we discuss how Koblin investigated and broke the a story about how an ESPN.com columnist named Sarah Phillips was scamming readers. Here’s that story from Koblin.
Here’s some of what we talked about (and some of what we didn’t).
In this podcast episode, we discuss his process in getting a book deal done and an actual tome written (where he had to write 80,000-plus words in about a four-month span), what it was like dealing with Meyer on the project, and if you can actually make money in the world of book publishing. Plus, we detail his rise from selling knives to where he is now and how he balances a busy beat (and writing a book) while spending time with his family.
Here’s some of what we talked about (and some of what we didn’t):